Hip-hop, Haiti and interracial love headline at Tribecca Film Fest

Created in 2001 as a way for revive lower Manhattan after the September 11th terrorist attacks, The Tribecca Film Festival is now celebrating it’s 10th anniversary. For independent filmmakers, outlets like the film festival have become the birthing place for widespread theatrical success and critical acclaim.

Over the past decade black moviegoers have been active in discussing some of the alleged negative stereotypes perpetuated in mainstream films marketed to black audiences.

The Tribecca Film Festival attempts to answer the question of what the future holds for black film, by bringing about a greater conscious to hip-hop, interracial love, life in post earthquake Haiti and more.

Beats, Rhymes & Life: the Travels of A Tribe Called Quest

In the film Beats, Rhymes & Life: the Travels of A Tribe Called Quest actor Michael Rapaport (Bamboozled) makes his directorial debut documenting his two years of travels with the band A Tribe Called Quest to reveal the backstory and meaning behind their music.

Formed in 1985, the American hip-hop group consisting of rapper/producer “Q-Tip;” Kamaal Ibn John, rapper “Phife Dawg;” Malik Taylor, Dj/producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and rapper Jarobi White released several well-received albums between 1990 and 1998. The film features De La Soul, Kanye West, Common, Mos Def, Ludacris, Beastie Boys and more.

Rapaport says that he compares hip-hop pioneering efforts of A Tribe Called Quest to groups that paved the way for rock and roll music.

“A Tribe Called Quest…they’re our Beatles, they’re our Led Zeppelin, they’re our Rolling Stones. Tribe has inspired a lot of artists from Kanye West, to The Roots, to the Black Eyed Peas.”

When the hip-hop story has been told in the past it often comes out as a tale about violence, gangs, and drugs.

“The beautiful thing about A Tribe Called Quest is the four members are all good guys, come from good families from a good part of Queens. They are not thugs with guns, but nice good people and musicians with heart.”

The Loving Story

The Loving Story is an evocative documentary recounting the fairly unknown love story of Mildred and Richard Loving, the couple behind the 1967 Supreme Court ruling overturning anti-miscegenation laws in the United States. Through a wealth of stunning archival footage this film recounts the devotion of love between a part black, part Cherokee women and a white man that were married in the state of Virginia in a time when interracial marriage was not accepted.

In 1959 the Lovings pleaded guilty to miscegenation and were sentenced to one year in prison, with the sentence suspended for 25 years on the condition that they leave the state of Virginia. Mildred loving headed up their civil rights battle and fought the bans against interracial marriage based on her need to find a way to live with her husband in their home state.

According to the film’s website, had Barack Obama’s white mother and black father lived in Virginia or any of the other 15 states with miscegenation laws in the early 1960s there marriage would have too been a felony when they married in 1961.

Nancy Buirski who directed the documentary is hopeful that Obama will hear about her labor of love saying, “I certainly hope he does hear about the movie and sees it. He has talked about what it was like to grow up as a mixed race child. He talked about how he never felt he really fit into any one community, or any one part of society.”

“I think we all benefited from that status that he had because he learned how to virtually integrate himself into every community.”This film celebrates the words of Mildred Loving on the 40th Anniversary of the Supreme Court decision: “I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”

Mama Africa

South African anti-apartheid activist Miriam Makeba died in 2008, but the story of her life and struggle for civil rights is revived in the documentary Mama Africa. The Grammy Award winning singer known to her fans as Mama Africa, traveled the world for nearly half a century spreading her message of joy, love and revolution. After being exiled from South Africa, Makeba dedicated her life’s work to exposing the injustice of apartheid. With interviews and excerpts from her extraordinary performances the film allows audiences access into the singer’s past.

Fire in Babylon

The producers of the Academy Award winning movie The Last King of Scotland are featuring the documentary Fire in Babylon; playing against the backdrop of the of the national liberation movements of the 1970s and 80s. The films pays tribute to the golden age of cricket in the West Indies as black teammates set out to triumph over their former colonial masters and make a name for themselves on the world stage. The reggae beats of Bob Marley, Gregory Isaacs and Burning Spear provide the soundtrack to the story of a period in sports history that awakened the social consciousness of spectators.

The Carrier

In Zambia, a country with polygamy is still a legal and common practice the documentary The Carrier follows the life of 28-year-old Mutinta who is pregnant and contracted HIV from his polygamist husband. When Mutina finds out about her health status she sets out to keep the child free of the virus and break the transmission cycle. The young mother is forced to navigate complicated family dynamics, village politics and economic struggles which limit her access to health care.

When the Drum Is Beating

Tribecca Film Festival will be shining light on the Haitian culture with the world premiere of When the Drum Is Beating, a documentary showcasing the cross history of Haiti and the country’s famed musical group ‘Orchestre Septentrional.’

The film takes viewers on a historic journey of Haiti’s turbulent past and present;The story of the country’s triumphant brutal battle for Independence from French colonialism to the current post earthquake devastation of Today.

Director Whitney Dow says he chose to do this film because music in Haiti is integral to life. “When you walk through the streets in Haiti the person who is selling his services sharpening knives is singing about it and the person selling sodas is banging a chime to a rhythm.”

People outside of island sometimes think that lives of inhabitants living on the island are dominated by poverty, bad economic situations and political unrest.

“What’s interesting about the music is it’s not about we shall overcome or we hope for a better tomorrow for Haiti. But its about falling in love or a girl sneaking out of her house and getting caught by her father,” the director adds.

Throughout the historic evolution of Haiti, for over 60 years the band members of the “Orchestra Septentrional” continue to thrive and provide the rhythm for moving forward.